Posted in Prose, Uncategorized, writer, writing

Maids of honour

Statutory warning: This is not yet another post on my wishes about my wedding and mother in law. I would rather call it an emotional one and I usually prefer to stay away from such poignant rants.

After thirteen long years, my family will be shifting from a plush south Delhi home to another lavish south west Delhi home. And as the date draws nearer, all of us start recounting our last shifting memories more than a decade back.

I am seriously not going to write poems here about my over-privileged south Delhi lifestyle where everything is available at a stone’s throw, the greenery and the cleanliness.

When you reside at a place for a very long time, you make recollections with the people you interact with, the trees that grow around you, the roads you walk on and the birds that come twittering to your balcony/terrace for their daily dose of leftovers. The mongrels which chase on your morning runs and the local cats who swoop into your lap like an attention crazy kid.

But the most important people with whom you forge an unforgettable bond are the house maids. Apart from keeping our homes in a sparkling state, our days are incomplete without the neighbourhood gossip they bring to our mothers’ otherwise monotonous days when we are occupied.

My Mom like any other mother has always been very particular about the cleanliness affairs and hence her affinity with the maids. There are good moments apart from the usual bitter-batter about “this corner was left un-swept”. I sometimes get a very peculiar feeling that she miser the maids when they are on their quarterly/annual/sick/casual leaves.

So when the last time we left Vasant Vihar, we were leaving a very understanding and hard working maid who had been loyal to our household for more than eight years. More than my Mom, the maid, named “Basanti” (colourful name though!) was more emmotional about our departure. On our last day, she controlled her heart and flatly told my Mom that she won’t be coming to see her off and would sit at a corner far away from us and would watch us leaving (teary eyed). In fact she was so attached to my Mom that she even wanted to travel to our current place (a 3km drive) and keep working for us. My mom still misses her I guess.

Here, at R.K. Puram, we had a spate of Chamelis, Lolitas and Maya. Maya is a fiery Nepali with a glass shattering voice but a good heart. She is a smart business woman and very sharp in finances. She does have a liking for my sister considering her homely and introvert nature. It always seemed to me that she was not much fond of us. But the last time my sister came for Diwali holidays, she was actually delighted to have her around. She even hugged her with teary eyes.

So let us see what Maaya does when we finally leave the place.

 

P.S.: Maaya and Chameli always liked me more because of my talkative nature and my ability to donate my new clothes to them. I can not help being conceited even here. Wink wink.

 

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Posted in biryani, chicken, chicken biryani, delhi, dessert, desserts, dum biryani, imarti, jalebi, kashmiri soup, kulfi, mutton, paan kulfi, radisson blu, rogan josh, soup, things to do in delhi, Uncategorized, yakhni soup

Kashmir to Kabul – The Great Kebab Factory, Radisson Blu Plaza, Delhi Airport

Radisson does it again and with utmost poise. After experiencing their Thai restaurant Neung Roi, it was time for their Kashmir to Kabul food festival at The Great Kebab Factory.

The elaborate menu for this particular festival features an assortment of vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian kebabs, curries and biryani. The non vegetarian kebab platter is a sinful and delectable affair with mellow galouti kebabs, smoked buttery Sumac Jheengha (prawns sourced from Kashmir), Saufiyani Kashmiri kebab which are subtle yet smoky, fine, tender & crusty lamb chops or Tabak Maaz, black pepper laced luscious Murg Kanti kebab and crispy Ajwain fried fish. I only tasted lotus stem or Nadru ke kebab which had a lovely grainy texture.

Usually, such buffet spreads prefer to not concentrate around light beverages and breads but the vegetarian Yakhni soup with sweet breads, Sheermal, salty & watery Chaanch are there to relieve your belly from the onslaught of delicious main course.

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The Rogan Josh served here was excellent with the prominence of cumin seeds and tomatoes and went well with soft Afghani naans. The chicken biryani was flavourful with succulent chicken pieces.

The dessert platter could not be more sinful! The crispy jalebis with thick and smooth rabri, the saffron & pistachio infused milky kulfi, the refreshing Paan ice-cream, the tepid Kheer and the unusual apple halwa will fill your alimentary canal up to the brim.

Happy Eating!

The Great Kabab Factory - Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi Airport Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in brunch, chicken, delhi, food, food blogger, halwa, indian food, JW Marriot, JW Marriot Aerocity, luxury brunch, makke di roti, mutton, mutton biryani, mutton keema halwa, punjabi, punjabi cuisine, sarso ka saag, Sunday brunch, things to do in delhi, Uncategorized

Amritsari Swaad – the Punjabi food festival at K3, JW Marriot, Aerocity

A traditional cuisine specific food festival has a special place in my heart. Especially when that cuisine is from the Punjabi heartland of our country. So when JW Marriot, Aerocity comes up with an Amritsari Swaad Tadka at their famed K3, could I have said no? Absolutely no!

Starting from perfectly smoked Kandhari Paneer Tikka, juicy and tangy mushrooms – Tandoori Khumbh, spicy Highway Tandoori Kukkad (chicken cooked in hand pounded spices) and meat de tikki (chewy mutton prepared in aromatic spices), your belly does get filled after these appetizing appetizers.

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And what is a Punjabi meal if it is not relished with Makke di roti, Sarson da saag, chhole and stuffed kulche? Though the chhole could have been spicier although the texture was excellent.

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And for vegetarians, there is a dearth of varied options – Paneer Taka Tak (loved it!), Kadhi Chawal, Hare moong ki daal (now that is something new!) and Matar Vadiyan di sabzi.

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And for non vegetarians, the Mutton Chawal is one dish worth experimenting. The mutton pieces are succulent although the rice could be more flavourful. Do not expect Biryani, this is Amritsar special.

And the best one is always reserved for the last. Ever heard of mutton keema halwa? Yes you read it right, the keema halwa. This was warm and heavenly and tasted like moong daal halwa.

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So when are you visiting next? The festival is on till 25th November.

 

Posted in cheese gunafa, chicken, chicken adana kebab, chicken shish touk, delhi, dessert, desserts, DLF cyber hub, food, food blogger, gluttonyguilts, gurgaon, gurgaon restaurants, hummus, kebab, lamb, lamb kebab, lebanese, lebanese cuisine, lebanese food, olive hummus, rice, Salad, things to do in delhi, Uncategorized, yamini chicken mandi rice

Zizo, DLF Cyber Hub, Gurgaon

Fattoush Salad: It is always considered “healthy” to begin a meal with a light sweet and savoury salad. My holiday lunch began with this light salad consisting of diced zucchini, cucumber, tomatoes, crispy pita chips and pomegranate seeds in a slightly tangy sauce. RECOMMENDED.

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Hummus Rasasfour: This is a special type of hummus served with pomegranate, molasses and diced chicken. The chicken pieces are extra juicy and have well imbibed the flavours of the molasses.

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Mixed Grill Platter: A refreshing break from the regular spiced laden Tandoori platter. The Turkish Adana and lamb kebabs were very juicy, firm, tender and resembled our very own Seekh kebab, albeit subtler but hot. Shish Touk was ohh-so-luscious with the goodness of mint  and smoked to perfection with butter. Iranian Urfa chicken kebab was slightly hotter, drier and saltier. RECOMMENDED.

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Yamini Chicken Manfi Rice: I shall call this Yemenese biryani. Two humongous pieces of chicken leg and breast on a bed of spiced rice is surely my dream meal. The rice was cooked in Yemenese spices as well as our coarse ones – black cardomam, cloves and black pepper and topped with caramelised onions. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Cheese Gunafa: I though desserts fashioned out of cheese were only the expertise of Europeans. But no, hell no, Middle Eastern cuisine also uses cheese to prepare delectable sugary bites. The cheese gunafa is warm and moderately sweet with fried vermicelli dipped in sugar syrup on top. Not to forget the finely chopped pistachios. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Zizo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in bakery, dehradun, himalayan resort, himalayan river, himalayas, india, indian, indian cuisine, indian food, landour, mountain, mountains, mussoorie, north indian, poha, Sunset, the lesser himalayas, travel, travel diaries, travel writing, traveller, travelogue, trek, trekking, Uncategorized, uttarakhand, writer, writing

Corn Village and Landour Exploration curated by Transforming Travels

Call it co-incidence, but I have been travelling more frequently to Uttarakhand this year than I ever did before. And although I am not really fond of the pebble laden trails here, the distinct Pahadi culture never fails to baffle me.

And the fact that the magnificent views here are still hidden from my prying eyes, I yearn to return here more often.

This unique experience was curated by the Transforming Travels and the organizers Chandni Aggarwal and Mihir Panda were their usual informative and cheery best.

Day 0

We, a group of six travellers, boarded an Innova from Mandi House Metro station at 11pm in the night.  After getting acquainted with each other, we retired for the day in our car seats.

Day 1

This day started early at 6:30 a.m. as we reached our hotel Grand Galaxy, a few kilometres from Mussoorie. Since road journeys tend to leave you exhausted, I preferred to sleep till 8:30 although that comforting sleep felt like eternity.

The breakfast ritual was performed in the blazing sun at the hotel courtyard from where you could get a magnificent view of the Mussoorie-Dehardun landscape. The usual poha, poori and aloo sabzi tend to become tastier in the mountains, I feel.

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Corn Village was the first place in our itinerary and before visiting the village, our first stoppage was at an elderly couple’s place. The husband Mr. Kunwar is the head of the village and his lady is a Canadian who decided to adopt the Pahadi culture. The lovely couple greeted us with a freshly prepared lemongrass tea and to sip it in the lap of the mountains while listening to the twittering of mountain birds was priceless! The couple have opened an English medium school for the children of Corn Village and are working tirelessly for literacy here.

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The vibrant yellow hues of the sweet corn cobs welcome you as you traverse through the village. The smiling villagers while going around their daily chores make you forget the tiredness from the road journey. The smiling children will pester you to play with them while the elderly ladies will oblige when you ask for a photograph to capture their earthy beauty.

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Lunch was a delicious affaire with make ki roti (corn chappatis), spiced wheat pancakes, sautéed pumpkins, mixed lentils, rice and sautéed greens. Each and every item was lip smacking to say the least.

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After Corn Village, Landour was not far behind. It is at a greater height than Mussoorie (some 2000m) and delicate cold winds will hit you abruptly. The colonial touches are more prominent here – stony pathways, wooden cottages, British conifers, deserted lanes and of course the bakeries.

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And I forgot to mention the very sophisticated boarding school kids scouting the Landour bakehouse. The bakery is pretty old – the puny roofs, the wooden interiors and the bone china cutlery will remind you of the bygone days. There is an extensive dessert menu with fresh bakes though I preferred to take chicken croissant sandwich which was ohh-so-warm. Not to forget the fresh ginger lemon tea with organic honey.

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Sunsets are not to be missed when you are in the mountains and the view from Lal Tibba is unforgettable.

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The day ended with a late dinner in the courtyard at the hotel and a sleep full of snores.

Day 2

The trek towards the origins of Kempty Falls had to begin early though we started late at 9a.m. A half an hour journey from our hotel to Cloud’s End where George Everest’s home stands tall. The building is in a dilapidated state with some hideous caricatures of undying love drawn on the walls. Nevertheless, the views are a thing of beauty at the canyon. The short hike to the top was a warm up for our trek and we successfully passed it.

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The trek towards the Kempty Falls origins is a descending one so expect sore calf muscles. You have to trudge very carefully as the well defined trail does get slippery in between. But the dense forests and the meadows encountered leave you breathless, quite literary. The trail foes through the Mussoorie Wildlife Sanctuary and we were told by some officials that bears and leopards are regular visitors there. Not to mention my chance encounter with a tiny snake that preferred to ran away instead of biting me.

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When you finally reach the gushing crystal clear blue-green waters of the many streams which ultimately form Kempty Falls, you can not help basking in the enchanting music. The long journey of 11km lays forgotten in the quiet of these streams.

After snacking on sweet corn and chai, we geared ourselves for Dehardun where we decided to have a grand dinner at Kalsang Ama café. I somehow never understood how these mountain cafes are able to dish out better pizzas, pastas and sandwiches than our high grade Delhi restaurants. The café scored excellent on quality as well as quantity.

And as usual, we decided to retire for the day in our car seats and reached Delhi in the morning hours.

Such rural explorations with unchartered trails are a speciality of Transforming Travels. Not to forget the comfort factor involved during road journey as well as hotel/resort stay.